There are not enough Black love stories on film or on television. There aren’t. My favorite Black love story continues to be Love and Basketball written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. I enjoy a complex Black love story that shows the tenderness that relationships bring into your life with the complexities of what being Black is all about. Sylvie’s Love, starring Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asoumugha, nailed tenderness as well as complexity. Airing on Amazon, right now, it’s worth your time. Here are 5 reasons why I enjoyed the film.
1. The Simplicity of 50’s Harlem
Sylvie’s Love takes place in 50’s Harlem and harkens us back to a simpler time. As I watched the movie and saw Sylvie, portrayed by Thompson, working in her father’s record shop, I thought, “Wow, a simple store. Imagine that.” I’m not sure there are any simple record stores anymore and if there are they are too few and too far between. The scenes shot in the music store felt like living in a pleasant flashback of the past.
2. The Chemistry between the two main characters
The chemistry between Thompson and Asoumugha, who played Robert, the other main character, jumped off the screen. I was like, “Dang, does Kerry know?” Asoumugha is married to actress Kerry Washington, but his magnetism with Tessa radiated nuclear volumes in less than two hours. A Black love story is more powerful when the two leads seem genuinely matched. Sylvie’s Love cast the perfect pair for this project. Hats off to Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee for handling casting on this project.
3. The script, itself
Written by Eugene Ashe, the script showed Sylvie, an African American woman, who fell pregnant by a new love while being engaged to another man. Though Sylvie knew she’d fallen in love with Robert, when Robert heads off to Paris for his career, Sylvie keeps the pregnancy to herself. Five years later she’s married to a man she can’t possibly be in love with. And, it shows. This storyline broke my heart and I loved every minute of it.
4. The music was interwoven as if it was a main character
I love a good musical and though this film isn’t a musical, the film showed it’s love of music. Robert, a talented saxophone player, went through the ebbs and flows of being an relatively unknown saxophone player, to becoming more famous, to going international, to trying to land at Motown. And, while all this is happening we hear the sound of 50’s Black music reminding us of an era. Quite a sound to behold.
5. The direction of the film elevated the tenderness as well as the tension
Ashe, not only wrote the film, he directed and produced it as well. His directing style made use of the magnetic chemistry between Tessa and Nnamdi. Ashe directed the shooting in such an intimate way that the film felt like a love story which we watched up close. As a viewer you got a real sense of the connection of between the characters which makes or breaks a love story.
I don’t write many reviews. But I was so touched by Sylvie’s Love that I messaged Ashe on Instagram as the credits rolled up the screen. Then, when I got up and headed into my writing accountability group, I told my fellow writers about this movie. So, I decided to write a review. I was just that moved. Congrats to the whole team on this project. The film was beyond delightful. Watching it felt like a Christmas gift to myself.